Budget and Safety Travel Tips for London

categories: europe travel

Tips for Travel to London

London is among the top tourist destinations during the summer no matter what year it is, but it can also be an expensive city to visit. There are some things you’ll want to make sure to plan for in advance so you don’t end up flat broke or simply broken down.

Here are some travel tips for London to help keep you sane and safe, and save you some cash.

Mansion blocks West London

Hotels Aren’t Your Only Lodging Options

Most travelers think “hotel” is synonymous with “accommodation,” and don’t look beyond the usual hotel websites when planning a trip. The reality is that there are so many accommodation options available – especially in a city the size of London – that you’d be crazy not to investigate them all.

Rather than paying for an overpriced hotel room, you can stay somewhere unique. London has lots of hostels, where dorm-style rooms are ideal for travelers on a serious budget who don’t mind sleeping with 6-10 of their closest “friends,” and the city is home to countless adorable B&Bs.

But if you’ll be in London for more than 2-3 nights, it’s likely that a vacation rental could be a cheaper option. There’s an array of buildings with fully-furnished “flats” that may be typically used by business travelers, but you could even stay in a local’s apartment – Londoners are increasingly renting out rooms for visitors, and not only are the prices often much lower than what you’d pay for a hotel, you get to save even more by cooking some of your own meals.

Take Advantage of Public Transportation

London’s traffic is bad at the best of times, and while the city’s cabbies are well-known for doubling as top-notch tour guides, taking a taxi across the city will cost you a fortune due to all the time you’re stalled in bumper-to-bumper traffic. When your feet get weary, instead of hailing a cab, do as the Londoners do and hop on The Underground.

London’s subway system – alternately called the “Underground” or the “Tube” – is famously efficient and inexpensive, and since it reaches all the far corners of the city there’s bound to be a Tube stop near where you are (and where you want to go). It is, however, worth looking for the closest Tube stops when you’re contemplating where you’ll stay in London, as the further you need to go to get into the city center (i.e. the more Zones you pass through) the more each ride will cost you.

London is your Oyster!

Check Out Travel Discount Cards

London offers Travelcards for public transportation in increments of 1-day, 7-day, and 1-month. A one-day Travelcard costs £8.40 and lets you ride public transportation in London as much as you want during that 24-hour period. A 7-day Travelcard is £29.20. When a single Zone 1 fare is £4.30, you can see how that would add up quickly if you didn’t get a Travelcard.

If you’re not sure you’ll be riding public transportation enough during a 24-hour period (or one-week) to justify the cost, but you think you’ll still be riding it enough to warrant a discount card, then the Oyster Card might be perfect. No, this isn’t some frequent-slurper card for inhaling the most shellfish – it’s a refillable card you can use to ride public transportation, and which you can continually top up with more funds as you need to. The Oyster Card also gets you a discount on each ride – whereas that Zone 1 fare is £4.90, with the Oyster Card it’s only £2.40.

The fares quoted here apply to the Tube, but not London’s buses or trams. You can add that option to your Oyster Card and save half off on busses; Travelcards are good on all buses, but only on trams if you’ve got a Travelcard that includes Zones 3-6.

London_Changing guards

Make Yourself Unappealing to Pickpockets

With all the money you’re saving with these tips, the last thing you want is for some opportunistic thief to erase all of it, right? Big cities like London – tend to attract ne’er-do-wells who prey on unsuspecting tourists. When you’re busy gazing upward at Big Ben, you’re less likely to notice the guy lifting your wallet from your purse.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make yourself look less like a pickpocket’s dream:

  • Leave your valuables at home. There’s no need to wear your fancy watches or jewelry on your trip, and you’d be devastated if they were stolen, so don’t even bother risking it.
  • Use a money belt for things like your passport, credit cards, and extra cash – and wear it under your clothing, where it can’t be seen. You can also leave this stuff in the hotel safe, if you’re staying in a hotel with one in the room.
  • Ladies, get a cross-body purse that can’t easily be grabbed off your shoulder – and guys, move your wallet to the front pocket of your pants (get a money clip and carry only the bare essentials if your wallet is too big).
  • Backpacks make good day packs, but they’re also easier to rifle through when you’re looking the other way (literally). When you’re moving through crowded areas (including riding crowded Tube trains), wear your backpack on your chest so you can keep an eye on it.

The less you look like someone who’s carrying wads of cash or expensive electronics, the less interesting you are to a potential thief – and that’s about as close to the thieves not existing at all as you can get.

This post was sponsored by wimdu.co.uk

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by Jessica Spiegel

Jessica Spiegel is a Portland-based freelance writer and social media strategist with a penchant for all things Italy. She has a passion for cities with bad reputations, is an enormous fan of public transportation, and if she never hears the "tourist vs. traveler" argument again it'll be too soon. Jessica's website is jessicatravels.com, and she's on Twitter @andiamo.

2 Responses to “Budget and Safety Travel Tips for London”

George Barley


The 2012 London Olympics will definitely draw lots of tourists from all over the world and local tourists as well. I can imagine how crowded it is during this event which will last for more than 2 weeks I guess. A year or two before the Olympics take place, reservations must be booked by travelers to get the best and most accessible hotel in UK. Yes, I agree that one should only bring the right stuff necessary for the trip. Other stuff like gadgets and other valuables should be left at home.

Jeremy Branham


Yes, definitely tips I use when I travel. I love B&Bs. I will be staying in one next week. And public transportation is always fun and easy to get around (although The Tube can be quite expensive).

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